Trajectory of a Lie

            By Milicent Cranor

Part I. The Palindrome
Part II. Neck and Torso X-Rays: Selectivity in Reporting
Part III. Big Lie About a Small Wound in Connally's Back

Part III.  Big Lie About a Small Wound in Connally's Back


There is no evidence, hard or soft, that supports the single bullet theory (SBT). Its defenders have spent a lot of time proving that it could have happened that way, which is not the same as proving that it did, a distinction they don't make. But the can't even prove it hypothetically because the sniper's nest and the various wounds of Kennedy and Connally do not line up. In addition, witnesses say the men reacted at two different times to two different bullets, and the Zapruder film seems to prove them right. To solve the problems of geometry and timing, promoters of the SBT have resorted to the use of junk science and chicanery. (See especially the crudely fraudulent computerized animation of the Zapruder film by Dale Myers: But even these tricks do nothing more than give the appearance of proving the theory as opposed to proving the reality. There is still no evidence whatsoever for the SBT. But since when has that been a problem? Evidence can always be manufactured, especially when it involves the written word.

One example of manufactured evidence is the lie about Connally’s back wound.  Why do supporters of the SBT say the wound was 3 centimeters long, when, in fact, it was only half as long?  Why was the 1.5 centimeter wound a problem?   Defenders of the theory say that if the Carcano bullet had struck sideways (as opposed to nose-on),  it would have created a wound the same size as its length (3 centimeters), and such a long wound would be proof the bullet had been tumbling.   If it had been tumbling, this, presumably, would be proof it had struck something else on its way to Connally’s back.   The something else in this case:  John F. Kennedy.

Problem:  Connally’s back wound was only as long as the wound in the back of Kennedy’s head:  1.5 centimeters.  No one has suggested Kennedy was hit in the head with a tumbling bullet.

Adaptation of a drawing demonstrating the hypothetical tumbling bullet.  From John Lattimer’s book, Kennedy and Lincoln.  Medical and Ballistic Comparisons of Their Assassinations, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980, page 268.

The drawing above demonstrates the alleged behavior of the single bullet.   The drawing was designed (though not executed) by John Lattimer, a urologist who has published several infomercials in medical journals promoting the lone assassin theory.  What is wrong with this picture, aside from the fact that the men are too far apart?    Experts assure me the Carcano bullet is much too stable to behave like this.   Perforating a neck could divert the bullet, but not make it tumble to this extent in so short a time and in so short a space.     (There is more on Lattimer below.)

The wound in Connally’s back did not indicate a sideways hit any more than the wound in the back of Kennedy’s head.  The latter was 1.5 x 0.6 centimeters, and the former, 1.5 x 0.8 centimeters, as documented on at least four occasions by the governor’s thoracic surgeon, Dr. Robert Shaw.  (4WCH104, 107; 6WCH85, 86).   The holes in the back of Connally’s shirt and jacket were as small as his back wound. (5WCH64) (See TABLE below.)  The damage inside Connally’s chest also disproves a sideways hit.  According to Shaw, the bullet created a "small tunneling wound" (7HSCA149) and he noted, "the neat way in which it stripped the rib out without doing much damage to the muscles that lay on either side of it."  (4WCH116)   Shaw felt that the shape of the bullet was explained either by a “slight tumbling,” or by it striking at a tangent. (6WCH95)   It had to have been a tangential hit since the bullet  “followed the line of declination of the fifth rib” (4WCH105), i.e., its path slanted downward. 

Connally’s back wound became 3 centimeters when it was surgically enlarged.   Shaw explained that in order to clean and debride (cut away devitalized tissue) the wound, he had to enlarge it to twice its size.  (6WCH88)

Despite all this testimony, two doctors — John Lattimer and Michael Baden — found ways to make the magic bullet wound change its size to fit the magic bullet theory.  And “investigative journalists,” like Gerald Posner, Gus Russo and Dale Myers, who are as incompetent as they are unethical, have spread the lie further.   

John Lattimer Exploits a Coincidence

Bullets and wounds are a bit like keys and locks, and that would make John Lattimer an amateur locksmith.   Since a tumbling bullet did not fit into Connally’s back wound, Lattimer changed the lock.    

Some 30 years ago, Lattimer apparently noticed an interesting coincidence:  the size of the wound – after it was enlarged – was the same length as a Carcano bullet, 3 centimeters.   Lattimer then published an article in which he claimed the wound had in fact been three centimeters long originally, i.e., without enlargement (Medical Times 1974; 102 November:33-56; Kennedy and Lincoln, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980).    As proof, he published the report on Connally's operation which only mentioned the post-enlargement size.  Lattimer also chose to publish an uncorrected diagram that portrayed the back wound as it was after surgical enlargement (CE 679, 17WCH336) when instead, he could have published the corrected diagram that showed its original size, 1.5cm.   (Gregory Exhibit No.1, 20WCH32).   See Exhibit A (Lattimer's rendition of CE 679) and Exhibit B (corrected drawing).   In each case, Lattimer selected documents out of context to create the false impression of a tumbling bullet entering sideways.  The uncorrected diagram appears in his book surrounded by testimony taken out of context to reinforce the false impression.  Below, I have reproduced these passages, and have placed a rectangle around the parts Lattimer selected to display.

Snippet 1 (6WCH86).  Above the uncorrected diagram, Lattimer placed selected statements that suggest Dr. Shaw has been asked to draw the large wound that you see on Connally, and he omits testimony that indicates the wound was too large:


Mr. Specter.  Is the size and dimension of the hole accurate on scale, or would you care to make any adjustment or modification in that characterization by picture?

Dr. Shaw.  As the wound entry is marked on this figure, I would say that the scale is larger than the actual wound or the actual depicting of the wound should be.  As I described it, it was approximately  a centimeter and a half in length.  [Emphasis added.]

Mr. Specter.  Would you draw, Dr. Shaw, right above the shoulder as best you can recollect, what that wound of entry appeared at the time you first observed it?  Would you put your initials right beside that?  

(The witness, Dr. Shaw, complied with the request of Counsel Specter.)

Snippet 2 (6WCH95).  Below the diagram, appears a passage that omits reference to Shaw's opinion that the elongated wound may have been caused by the angle of entry, and not by tumbling.


Mr. Specter.  As to the wound on the back of Governor Connally, was there any indication that the bullet was tumbling prior to the time it struck him?

Dr. Shaw.  I would only have to say that I'm not a ballistics expert, but the wound on his chest was not a single puncture wound, it was long enough so that there might have been some tumbling.

Mr. Specter.  You mean the wound on his back?

Dr. Shaw.  The wound on his back – yes, it was long enough so that there might have been some tumbling.  In other words, it was not a spherical puncture wound.

Mr. Specter.  So, it might have had some tumbling involved, or it might not have?

Dr. Shaw.  Yes; I don't know whether the clothes would have occasioned this or not.

Mr. Specter.  My question would be that perhaps some tumbling might have been involved as a result of decrease in velocity as the bullet passed through President Kennedy, whether there was any indication from the surface of the wound which would indicate tumbling.

Dr. Shaw.  The wound entrance was an elliptical wound.  In other words, it had a long diameter and a short diameter.  It didn't have the appearance of a wound caused by a high velocity bullet that had not struck anything else; in other words, a puncture wound.
          Now, you have to also take into consideration, however, whether the bullet enters at a right angle or at a tangent.  If it enters at a tangent there will be some length to the wound of entrance.   [Emphasis added.]

[Again, it should be noted that the entrance wound in Kennedy's head was said to have been the exact same length – 15mm.]

Snippet 3 (6WCH87).   Again Lattimer provides selected testimony that shows Dr. Shaw agreeing on the size of a wound in the diagram – only he omits statements above and below his selection that indicate the subject of the discussion was the exit wound.


Mr. Specter.  Would you at this time, right above the right shoulder there, draw the apearance of the point of exit as nearly as you can recollect it on Governor Connally?

Dr. Shaw.  This is right.

Mr. Specter.  You say the hole which appears on Governor Connally is just about the size that it would have been on his body?

Dr. Shaw.  Yes; it is drawn in good scale.

Mr. Specter.  In good scale to the body?

Dr. Shaw.  Yes.

Mr. specter.  Would you draw it on another portion of the paper here in terms of its absolute size?

Dr. Shaw.  Five cm. it would be – about like that – do you want me to mark that?

Mr. Specter.  Put your initials right in the center of that circle.

Dr. Shaw.  I'll just put "wound of exit."

Lattimer did report that a correction had been made, but lied about its nature.  A few pages earlier, he wrote,  “His careful diagram of the wound of entry (which he revised and initialed) showed it to be elongated in its vertical (not horizontal) axis and to be at least 3 cm in length.”(Kennedy and Lincoln, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980)     "At least" three centimeters long?    At least?

Michael Baden Stretches the Lie Further

Dr. Michael Baden who headed the HSCA medical panel, knew the true size of the wound and how it had been enlarged.  He had also personally examined the scar on Connally’s back.  This is how he described it to the panel:

 “On removing his shirt, it was readily apparent that at the site of gunshot perforation of the upper right back there is now a 1 1/8 -inch long horizontal pale well healed...”  (7HSCA 143-144; 240)

In a book Baden wrote for the public, he doubled the size of the scar:


"According to Connally's medical records, the bullet struck him nose first in the back and left a vertical scar.  I thought the records were wrong.  If it was the same magic bullet, it would have gone in sideways -- with the length, not the point, first.  After leaving Kennedy, it would have lost its power and became a tumbling bullet, and tumbling bullets rotate.  When they finally strike, they strike edgewise.  I needed to examine Connally...

“He removed his shirt.  There it was -- a two-inch long sideways entrance scar in his back.  He had not been shot by a second shooter but by the same flattened bullet that went through Kennedy." (Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner, Random House 1989, p.20)   See Exhibit C .

Apparently Baden realized that if the original wound had been three centimeters (1.2 inches), then, after its surgical enlargement, the scar would have been even bigger.   It was a calculated lie.   This is only one of several examples of Michael Baden’s deceptions. 

Gerald Posner, Gus Russo, and Dale Myers  Perpetuate the Lie

Two of these “investigative reporters,” Posner and Russo, never quoted primary sources on the wound, choosing instead to accept the fraudulent claims of Lattimer and Baden. (Gerald Posner. Case Closed.  Random House, pp 336, 479; Gus Russo.  Live by the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK.  Bancroft Press, 1998, p.297).

The third “investigative reporter,” Dale Myers, mimicked Lattimer’s technique of taking testimony out of context.  On his website, he wrote:   “According to Dr. Robert Shaw's operative record, the entrance wound in JBC's body was ‘just lateral to the right [shoulder blade] close [to] the [armpit] yet has passed through the latysmus [latissimus] dorsi muscle...the wound of entrance was approximately [1.2 inches] in its longest diameter.’ (7HSCA142)”  But Myers omitted what followed immediately after the quote above:  “The rear entrance wound was NOT [emphasis mine]  3 centimeters [1.2 inches] (in diameter) as indicated in one of the operative notes. It was a puncture-type wound, as if a bullet had struck the body at slight declination [i.e., not at a right angle]. The wound was actually approximately 1.5 centimeters in diameter. The ragged edges of the wound were surgically cut away, effectively enlarging it to approximately 3 centimeters.”   (7HSCA143)


A lie from one of John Lattimer's pseudoscientific articles has persisted to this day. The lie, which concerns the wound in John Connally's back and how it relates to the single bullet theory, is remarkable in that it is so easy to disprove. Yet, it has been perpetuated by a number of unethical authors, the most significant of whom is Michael Baden. This man was Head of the Medical Panel, House Select Committee on Assassinations, the second largest investigation into the medical evidence in this case. We are grateful to these people for unwittingly demonstrating a fatal flaw in the case against Lee Harvey Oswald—and for providing such accessible proof of conspiracy to cover up the truth.  

TABLE. Connally’s Back Wound – the Hole Story







Entrance into JFK’s Scalp and Skull



Autopsy Report, p.4 (WR541)

Connally’s Jacket (back)




5 WCH 64

Connally’s Shirt (back)




5 WCH 64

Connally’s Back Wound
(original size)



Robert Shaw MD

4 WCH 104, 107; 6 WCH 85, 86

Wound after Enlargement


1 ¼

Robert Shaw MD

6 WCH 88

Connally’s Back Wound
(original size)



1 ¼

John Lattimer MD
Medical Times 1974; 102 November:33-56;
Kennedy and Lincoln, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980, pp264-269

Gus Russo
Live by the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK
Bancroft Press, 1998, p.297

Dale Myers
“Secrets of a Homicide” Website



1 1/8

Michael Baden MD

7 HSCA 143





Michael Baden MD
Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner,
Random House 1989, p.20

Exhibit A. Excerpt from Page 266 of John Lattimer's Kennedy and Lincoln, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980.

Exhibit B. Gregory Exhibit No. 1, from Warren Commission Hearings Volume XX, Page 32.

Note the corrected (thinner) entry wound drawn and initialed above the right shoulder.

Exhibit C. Excerpt From Page 20 of Michael Baden's Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner, Random House, 1989.

In this book, the chief of the HSCA's forensic panel wrote that the wound was double the size reported by the forensic panel in its official report.


© 2004 Milicent Cranor